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 Post subject: What if you were born into another religion?
PostPosted: Sun May 06, 2007 8:44 am 
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If you were born and raised into a diffrent religion, world view, and/or philosophy, do you think you would have stayed with that one, or rejected it and found the one you have now?

I'm a materialist, humanist, and atheist. I was born as a Protestant Christian, so to speak; but most people over here in Sweden, including my family, doesn't really bother much with religion. You usually just stick with whatever you were born into. We do go to church for baptises, marriages, and burials, but hardly ever for any other reason. We have some decoration for Christmas and Easter, but that's about it. We have a bible somewhere in our house, but nobody ever reads it, and my parents are pretty much agnostic. So my environment is rather soft and gives room for a lot of free thinking.

But sceptic as I am, I think I would have found pretty much the philosophies I have right now regardless of what I might have been born into.


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PostPosted: Sun May 06, 2007 12:37 pm 
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If I become somewhat of the same person again, I'd probably become an atheist again. But if I'm born and raised as an ultra-conservative Catholic, I doubt I'll become atheist. nurture really plays a big role.


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PostPosted: Sun May 06, 2007 12:43 pm 
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does this thread count for politics?


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PostPosted: Sun May 06, 2007 1:05 pm 
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ready for prime time wrote:
does this thread count for politics?


This whole entire section wrote:
Religion and Politics


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If I were the exact same person in every respect disregarding religion, I would probably be either what I was born into or an aethiest. Although, If I still had the knowledge of my religion and had spent the same amount of time analyzing it, I'd probably stick with what I have.

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PostPosted: Sun May 06, 2007 1:25 pm 
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this thread wrote:
What if you were born into another religion?


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PostPosted: Sun May 06, 2007 1:41 pm 
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the above argument confuses me.

I don't have any illusions. If I was born into another religion, that one would be the one that shaped my worldview growing up. Chances are good that I'd still be where I'm at right now: in ever-deepening doubt and rejection of religion, but maybe not. I still consider Catholicism to be the religious expression that most makes sense to me, it's just the whole idea of religion has been called into question. If it wasn't that way, I'd be Catholic, because that's what makes sense, assuming religion. But it only makes sense because I was born into it. Ya see?

But it's probably because I was born into it that I'm rejecting it now. I realized that I'd just blindly accepted this thing without really "feeling it". I'm not sure if kids being "born into" a religion is really helpful for them. Sure, they might take to it, but in these religiously open times, with all these different choices, it seems more likely to make the religion too familiar before they're at an age where they can really step back and ask themselves if they actually believe it. So you get a lot of people who aren't at all willing to step back and ask the hard questions about their faith and get all defensive, because their faith isn't built on anything really, just "this is how it's always been for me," and a part of them knows that if they question it, the whole thing will fall apart. I dunno... that's just the impression I get. Gonna stop now cuz I can see this turning into something reeeeally long.

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PostPosted: Sun May 06, 2007 2:18 pm 
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RFPT, you make me lose my little faith in humanity.

Anyways, I think that if the only thing that were different were my religion, I'd still end up going atheist. But if, say, I was actually born into a strict Puritan household, who can say? I think that as long as I still thought it was all right to question, I'd doubt the religion.


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PostPosted: Sun May 06, 2007 3:15 pm 
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Hard to say, honestly. Every single detail of our lives, regardless of how big or small, plays an integral role in the delicate space-time continuum that we know...often to an unfathomable degree. If I was born into a different religion, I'd essentially not be me, meaning that it wouldn't be I who was born into a different religion (unless you want to get into a further debate on the definition of the self). It raises a lot of questions: Would the religion be one that was stricter, allowing less for people to question it? Is it the religion itself that operates this way, or individual followers? Would my parents still be nurturing to the degree of stimulating individual thought on my part when they raised me? Would my religious peers still do the same?

How would my line of thinking differ from insights to the world I gleaned in appreciation to the religion into which I was born? Would such lines of thinking lead me to be more prejudice or bigoted? Perhaps MORE open-minded than I am now? Would my line of thinking have prevented me from harboring the suicidal thoughts I had to deal with for several years of my younger life? Would it have made it easier for me to go ahead and kill myself as I had attempted so many times when I was younger? Would I be long dead by now? Would I have gotten into an accident, been maimed or killed, perhaps by a thug, on the way to/from an alternative place of worship, or any other alternative physical destination to which me (and likely my family) were travelling at the time?

There's a whole host more of these questions that I have no idea how to answer, because so many factors come into play. For the sake of argument, though, if EVERYTHING in my life was the same except for a different religion, I'd likely still question it, probably tear away from it (unless it was Buddhism or Paganism), and recognize myself for the Therian I am today.

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PostPosted: Sun May 06, 2007 5:46 pm 
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I've long been of the opinion that what religion most people choose is a product of your environment and very little else. People choose their religion because their parents did, or somebody they highly respect did... factors like that. Almost nobody just cracks open a Bible, flips through it, and says, "Hey, I'm gonna believe this stuff."

And I believe that goes for everybody, including those who are extremely devout and/or have really thought through their religion, like Didymus. If Didymus were born in Saudi Arabia, or India, or China, the probability that he would be Christian, while non-zero, becomes much smaller, whereas in the United States, it's extremely high.

Heck, my own religious life is evidence. In the beginning, I had little awareness of religion. If asked if I believed in God, I'd probably have said "yes", but only because I took it for granted. Then my mother started dating this Christian guy, and I ended up going to Sunday school, and lo, I became Christian. I didn't particularly respect (or disrespect) this Christian guy at the time, but I was put in an environment that obviously would be conducive to converting me to full Christianity. But I later found that I had respect for certain atheists, like Bill Gaines (the guy who published MAD Magazine). I decided to reject Christianity and, in a somewhat reactionary fashion, I went a little too far in that direction at first. I became the stereotypical ACLU fanboy (although I hadn't actually heard of the ACLU yet), the guy who doesn't want to even hear about the existence of Christianity. Then, with time, and some thought, I became what I am today: a sort of agnostic-atheist who couldn't care less about what religion you have as long as you don't try to force it on me. I find it doubtful that I'll convert again in the future, because I'm much more informed about religion than I was before.

When I describe it like that, my Christianity and my atheism seem kind of shallow. But they certainly didn't feel shallow at the time. I just believed what I did for the wrong reasons. But now I understand not just what I believe, but why I believe it. I know that, at least this time around, I've "thought it through", which I think everybody should. Some people are scared to think things through because they fear their faith might waver. I think that's entirely the wrong approach: if you think your faith is going to waver, it's probably not that well-founded in the first place. But, ah, that's another topic...

Anyway, I know that, despite having thought it through, I'm still a product of my environment, and if I were born in an environment that was hostile enough to my current point of view, I probably wouldn't ever have arrived at it. It's inescapable.

- Kef

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PostPosted: Sun May 06, 2007 9:28 pm 
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i must say, i would stick with what i was born with.

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PostPosted: Sun May 06, 2007 10:07 pm 
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If I had have come in contact with the religion I hold now, yes I would be following it, but if not well I wouldn't.

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PostPosted: Sun May 06, 2007 10:49 pm 
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I don't know where i'd be.
i was born and brought up with no religious background.
and here i am.


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PostPosted: Sun May 06, 2007 11:23 pm 
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Wesstarrunner wrote:
If I had have come in contact with the religion I hold now, yes I would be following it, but if not well I wouldn't.


And how do you know that?

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PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2007 12:26 am 
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Actually, I was brought up under a different religion that I am now. What's more, in my teen years, I actually didn't really hold to a religion. I was baptized when I was 12, but after my mother and father divorced, my family fell away from the faith. During that time, I studied quite a number of different religions, including Islam and paganism (I was particularly interested in Norse and Celtic mythology). It wasn't until the first Gulf War that I really started to take any religion seriously and started attending church.

But oddly enough, it wasn't the Gulf War that did it, but rather some inconsistencies I found in what was taught there. I actually became a closet atheist for about a year, going to church but completely rejecting everything that was taught there. But then, suddenly, I found that what I thought were inconsistencies actually fit together.

But as I continued studying the Christian faith, I began to realize that the inconsistencies weren't with the faith itself, but with the church of which I was a member. Eventually, my theological and biblical studies led me to the Lutheran church, and I've been home ever since.

So what would my religious history have looked like if I had been born within a different faith than the one I hold now? I really can't say. On one hand, I like to think the intellectual demands of my own religious pursuits would have eventually led me to the same place, but I can't really say that for certain. But as Aslan was often fond of telling children, "No one is ever told what would have happened."

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PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2007 12:43 am 
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There are a million different willy-nilly theories that can be made up and called a religion. This statement encompasses all organized religions. You could believe the set of stories that is Christianity; you could believe the set of stories that is Islam; you could believe a set of stories involving a giant, intelligent plastic spoon that created the universe on a whim.

Now, I'm not to say that any of these are untrue. Nobody truly knows. For all I know, the plastic-spoon theory could be true. So I accept other people having a religion. But for me, I'm not one to believe in any of those stories without solid proof, no matter what my family tells me. I am content to not know. I am agnostic.

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PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2007 1:09 am 
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I was raised Christian, and still am, but...my exact beliefs have changed. As I have stated before, I do not really believe in Hell; more of a Purgatory. I have friends of many faiths and belief systems, and it's just so horribly wrong that God would cast such good people into Hell just because they were wrong. He's merciful. I honestly think that the Bible, while divinely inspired, has a fair few mistakes--they did their very best, but they still screwed up a little. So I don't think it's completely infalliable, seeing as how man is not completely infalliable. I really believe that one's deeds are what truly matter--that a truly wicked person who identifies themself as Christian isn't as "good", so to speak, as a virtuous person who is not religious, or follows a different path. I think that God created the universe for fun, if that makes sense. He didn't intend for us to get in fights over religion or anything. We should just live and let live, and try to lead happy, fun, and fulfilling lives. That's not to say we should do things that aren't right, of course, but I think you get my point.

I DO, however, believe in the basic tenets of my faith (that there is one God in three persons, so to speak, that Jesus died for our sins, etc.). And I'm actually kinda depressed by ardent atheists who keep saying there cannot possibly be a god and all that. One must keep an open mind. I know I do. I'm also incredibly depressed when people say there's nothing after death. It's so horribly disheartening, you know?

Marshmallow Roast wrote:
But for me, I'm not one to believe in any of those stories without solid proof...


What exactly counts as "proof", though? Would it take God coming down from the sky and saying "lol hay i r gawd"? How would you know that the guy claiming to be God WAS, in fact, God, and not just some random crazy guy? I'm just confused.

Besides, there is a difference between believing something and knowing something. I don't know what happens after you die, or how the universe was created, or what my purpose in life is. I just believe what I believe, and don't pretend I truly know all the answers.

In short, I don't really believe that there's a real problem with belonging to any religion (except cults and the like), unless you get overzealous. But mankind was made capable of making decisions, and if they make the wrong one, why should they be punished?

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PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2007 1:26 am 
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i don't want to start an argument here but just a thought, what exactly defines a cult? i mean it could be said that you are say a catholic and you view a Satan worshiping church, as a cult. now what do the people in the "cult" think? they could just as easily think that catholicism is a cult...so what say you?

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PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2007 2:08 am 
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What exactly counts as "proof", though? Would it take God coming down from the sky and saying "lol hay i r gawd"? How would you know that the guy claiming to be God WAS, in fact, God, and not just some random crazy guy? I'm just confused.

Funny you should say that. Because that's pretty much what happened at Bethlehem (well, it began at Bethlehem).

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In short, I don't really believe that there's a real problem with belonging to any religion (except cults and the like), unless you get overzealous. But mankind was made capable of making decisions, and if they make the wrong one, why should they be punished?

Because often times, bad decisions have negative consequences. If a person decides to pick up a poisonous snake, or go swimming with a sting ray, he can't exactly cry foul when he gets himself hurt. God provided a way out. He didn't have to, but he did. That's why Jesus said to his disciples, "I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes unto the Father except by me." Logic dictates that person who chooses the wrong direction does not ultimately arrive at the correct destination. It is sad, but also true.

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PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2007 2:56 am 
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WierdAlFan wrote:
i don't want to start an argument here but just a thought, what exactly defines a cult? i mean it could be said that you are say a catholic and you view a Satan worshiping church, as a cult. now what do the people in the "cult" think? they could just as easily think that catholicism is a cult...so what say you?


From Dictionary.com:

Quote:
cult [kuhlt]
–noun
1. a particular system of religious worship, esp. with reference to its rites and ceremonies.
2. an instance of great veneration of a person, ideal, or thing, esp. as manifested by a body of admirers: the physical fitness cult.
3. the object of such devotion.
4. a group or sect bound together by veneration of the same thing, person, ideal, etc.
5. Sociology. a group having a sacred ideology and a set of rites centering around their sacred symbols.
6. a religion or sect considered to be false, unorthodox, or extremist, with members often living outside of conventional society under the direction of a charismatic leader.
7. the members of such a religion or sect.
8. any system for treating human sickness that originated by a person usually claiming to have sole insight into the nature of disease, and that employs methods regarded as unorthodox or unscientific.

–adjective
9. of or pertaining to a cult.
10. of, for, or attracting a small group of devotees: a cult movie.


I'd say #6 is typically what most people think regarding a "cult."

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PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2007 8:56 am 
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PianoManGidley wrote:
a religion or sect considered to be false, unorthodox, or extremist, with members often living outside of conventional society under the direction of a charismatic leader.


So for example, WierdAlFan, Heaven's Gate and, quite arguably, Scientology are cults; it couldn't be as legitimately argued that, say, Catholicism is.

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PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2007 8:58 am 
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And you guys are too young to remember David Koresh or Jim Jones, but they definitely qualify.

Fred Phelps quite possibly falls into that category too.

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PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2007 9:30 am 
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Didymus wrote:
And you guys are too young to remember David Koresh or Jim Jones, but they definitely qualify.

Fred Phelps quite possibly falls into that category too.


I remember those guys! Jim Jones was the guy who had Jonestown, as I recall, and...wasn't David Koresh the guy in that whole Waco thing?

And yes. Fred Phelps...truly an evil man.

EDIT: For the record, here's a list of groups commonly referred to as cults.

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PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2007 4:52 pm 
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PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2007 8:07 pm 
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right right, but, it could be agrued, that the people in the cult dont consider themselves as a cult...

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PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2007 8:16 pm 
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WierdAlFan wrote:
right right, but, it could be agrued, that the people in the cult dont consider themselves as a cult...


True. Even with a majority agreement in consensus, labels are still a subjective thing. Some people abhorr the stigma associated with a label and therefore do not use it on themselves, even if others would. I've learned to stop caring as much about what other people think of me--I have enough friends and loved ones who love me for me, so I don't feel the need to impress anyone else, really. I know (and take a little pride, even) that my spiritual beliefs are well outside the norm.

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PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2007 8:36 pm 
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But one issue with those groups typically labeled as cults is that, very often, it's not just that their beliefs are different, but that they are considered dangerous as well.

Some "evangelical" groups use the term to mean just about any group that is not mainstream Christianity, but I feel the term used that way is severely misleading, and for that reason, I this usage inappropriate. It's one of the reasons why I object to the use of the term "cult" when applied to groups like the Mormons.

So while WeirdAlFan may have a point, what contemporary society labels as a cult is typically a group whose beliefs are so divergent that they are in fact dangerous, either to society as a whole, or to its members. This could include physical threat, sexual abuse, psychological harm, etc.

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PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2007 10:23 pm 
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PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2007 1:15 am 
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Didymus wrote:
But one issue with those groups typically labeled as cults is that, very often, it's not just that their beliefs are different, but that they are considered dangerous as well.

...

So while WeirdAlFan may have a point, what contemporary society labels as a cult is typically a group whose beliefs are so divergent that they are in fact dangerous, either to society as a whole, or to its members. This could include physical threat, sexual abuse, psychological harm, etc.


Some might counterargue that remark by pointing out the ills that Christianity and other major religions have performed throughout history (and that some members of such religions still perform [or have expressed desire to perform] to this day). If threat to one's physical and emotional well-being is used to label another person as being a member of a cult religion, then there are still a lot of Christians and Muslims I could think of that are following a cult (even Wikipedia lists the Westboro Baptist Church as being a cult), even if the majority of the other followers do not show signs of being so violent. Perhaps it should simply be the obvious majority of any such group that poses such a palpable threat before we label the overall group as a "cult," by this line of thinking.

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PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2007 1:45 am 
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You did read the entire post, right? The key term there would be "divergent." If someone wanted to label the entire Christian Church as a cult, it would be on them to demonstrate that the religion as a whole promotes beliefs that are overtly harmful. On the other hand, a splinter sect like Westboro does in fact fall into that category, and the label perfectly applies.

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PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2007 1:48 am 
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You did read the entire post, right? The key term there would be "divergent." If someone wanted to label the entire Christian Church as a cult, it would be on them to demonstrate that the religion as a whole promotes beliefs that are overtly harmful. On the other hand, a splinter sect like Westboro does in fact fall into that category, and the label perfectly applies.

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